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Sunday, September 6, 2009

How My Nephew Came to Attend the SOL Strategic Planning Retreet in July, 2009

Hey, nobody told my nephew about this retreat on Ahimsa Village's Facebook Fan Page and the School of Living Fan Page didn't even exist yet. There wasn't even a Tweet on Twitter about it From:AEROEDUCATION before the Reaching in Reaching Out Retreat. I did however just discover that AERO has a new web address through TipTop Search. I did know that the SOL Strategic Planning Retreat was to be held at Julian Woods Community on July 10-12, 2009, through Ahimsa Village's weekly business meetings, but was not able to attend until a last minute opportunity presented itself. Regarding the background on School of Living as an organization, I barely know that: “The SOL was founded in1934 by Dr. Ralph Borsodi in Suffren, NY to teach people how to live the "good life" in trying times. His vision was carried on and expanded by Mildred Loomis at Lane's End Farm in Ohio and later Heathcote Center in Maryland . The SOL was the leading organization for the "green revolution" and inspired such people as J.I. Rodale, Adele Davis, Paul Keane, the Nearing and many, many others. It pioneered many movements including organic agriculture, permaculture, alternative currency, alternative education, intentional community, “back to the land,” community land trust, etc. The recent history of the organization has focused on maintaining 6 community land trust communities and less so on “green education” (although each community is engaged in educational activities). What made this retreat so unique is that it is the first time in memory that the SOL has held a retreat with the specific purpose of reevaluating its mission, vision, and goals. The event marked a unique opportunity in the organization’s 75 year history to determine its future direction.” Read more.

My interaction with SOL had been a purely an administrative one during the Ahimsa Village property lease signing back in October of 2006. I remember that Robert, Herb, Rita James and some other Land Committee members were there. I had heard about some of the other communities through Bob and Kelle, but had never had the opportunity to chat with anyone from the Common Ground, Heathcote, or Seven Sisters communities. So up until July, my interactions with SOL living members revolved around Ahimsa, Julian Woods and CCA members. I had never read any Henry George, could never remember Borsodi's name, and realized that I knew next to nothing about School of Living's rich organizational history. Well, I'm glad to say that has all changed after I was fortunate enough to attend a the wonderfully organized, beautifully attended, and amazingly provisioned weekend event in Julian, PA. Arriving at Ahimsa Village Friday afternoon, after a visit with family in Bucks County, PA and a flight from my current homestead in Santa Cruz, CA; I was pleasantly surprised that my nephew would be arriving from York, PA the next day to join us...or cash in on his birthday glider ride at the Ridge Soaring Gliderport Getting in on Friday evenings potluck, I immediately knew that I was around good light-hearted people that were gearing up for a serious couple days of get-up, get-down, and get-dirty group action. The workshop sessions facilitated by Grace Potts and Alice Leibowitz of Insight Unlimited were well organized, educational, and productive...especially in a people kind of way. Even my nephew, who arrived mid-morning, was sweeped into a focus group upon arrival and put to task with marker in hand. If you don't recall his engaging conversations during the day, or his fancy disco dance steps Saturday night, you might remember him as the “government guy” in one of closing skits. I seemed to gravitate toward the land-related groups, discussions, and planning areas which opened my eyes to historic land acquisition issues, concerns of those living on the land, and current land administrative and legal hurdles, and future strategic planning opportunities. Beyond getting a real sense of organizational comradery, interpersonal warmth and some real action items, I brought home Henry George's “The Coming Keynesian Catastrophe”, four SOL t-shirts, and a lentil soup recipe. If you would like to reminisce about the weekend please check out the weekend retreat photos.

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